Speed TV Out of the Race

By on July 2, 2013

photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography

There seems to be no question as to the pending demise of what is most likely the most popular motorsports, and automotive television network in the industry. Fox Sports, parent company of Speed TV, plan to restructure the current format to an all sports format, with programming similar to, and in direct competition with ESPN. The new channel has been labeled as Fox Sports 1. Indications are Fox Sports will feature content from the National Football League, NCAA football, and basketball, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR. Other programming related to motorsports has yet to be determined.

There is little debate in the world of motorsports, that any series, large, or small, needs a viable television package to attract new sponsors, retain current sponsors, and bring their products to the largest audience possible. The series considered to be the giants of motorsports within the confines of North America, Nascar, and the Izod Indy Car Series will feel little effect with this cancellation of Speed TV. Fox Sports have indicated the current Nascar programs, like Race Day, and Race Hub will move to the new Fox Sports 1, but will undergo schedule changes from early evening to mid day. Other Nascar series including the Camping World Truck Series and the Nascar Nationwide Series will also be continued. The Izod Indy Car Series is under contract with major networks, ABC, and NBC Sports Network through 2018. The Rolex Grand-Am series, and the American LeMans Series are currently under contract with Speed TV through the 2013 season, and series officials are confident with the merger of the two series, that they will be able to negotiate a new contract with the new network.

photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography

This will leave other popular motorsports series , such as the World of Outlaws Sprint car, and Dirt Late Model Series, AMA Motorcycle racing, IHRA Drag Racing, and the only form of motorsports entertainment to sell out ever show in the past six years, the USHRA Monster Jam ,searching for new television packages. Major considerations for these, and other series considering television packages, are the markets covered by the network, and of course, the costs involved for air time, and compensation for the rights to air the series. Without doubt, some of these smaller, grassroots type series will have a difficult time securing an affordable package, or will be limited to a narrow market area. Some will be left with no coverage at all.

Without Speed TV, there are only two networks dedicated to automotive, and motorsports programming. In 2012, Lucas Oil, purchased the Cable channel MAV TV, and it was widely presumed this channel would be the outlet for the many series running under the Lucas Oil banner, however the programming at this point is mostly old movies, infomercials, hunting, and other outdoor related shows. MAV TV is only available in limited market areas, numbers range between 5 to 7 million households, compared to the estimated 80 to 81 million households that Speed TV reaches. Velocity is the other available channel that many believe is dedicated to automotive, and motorsports programming, however, Velocity Channel falls under the Discovery umbrella, and Discovery Network markets the Velocity Channel as a high end men’s lifestyle channel, and not necessarily an outlet for motorsports, or automotive programming.

The cancellation of Speed TV will be a great loss to every automotive, and motorsport enthusiasts, many of the smaller grassroots racing series will be left out in the cold, unable to obtain affordable, suitable television coverage, resulting in the possible loss of major sponsorship dollars required to continue operation of the series. The best we can hope for is Fox Sports will realize that the smaller grassroots racing series is the backbone of the sport, and offer affordable exposure to these series. Without these grassroots racers, the sport would be damaged beyond repair, there would be little to no growth in the industry, and eventually, even the largest, most visible entities will become stagnate.

In short, without the grassroots racers, and the series they support, the sport that 81 million households support and sustain, will surely die.

Categories: Motor Sports, Sports
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